No sentence increase for man who exploited worker living in shed in Cumbria

Swailes' sentence won't change. Credit: Police image

A man who exploited a worker living in shed in Carlisle will not have his sentence increased, it's been decided.

Peter Swailes, 56 from Low Harker, Carlisle admitted conspiring with his father, also called Peter, to exploit that man financially from July 2015 which is when the Modern Slavery Act came into law.

He was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for 18 months by Judge Richard Archer at Carlisle Crown Court on 4 February.

But Solicitor General Alex Chalk has not been able to persuade appeal judges that the sentence given to a man who admitted helping exploit a worker made to live in a horse box, a disused caravan and a cramped shed for 40 years was unduly lenient.

At the time of sentencing in February, prosecutors accepted Swailes’ guilty plea on the basis that he was unaware of the living conditions despite knowing the victim for years.

A barrister representing Mr Chalk on Tuesday 12 April argued, at a Court of Appeal hearing in London, that the sentence was unduly lenient.

However, Lord Justice Holroyde said judges had concluded that neither the length of the term, nor the suspension was unduly lenient, due to Swailes’ guilty plea.

Swailes' father died last year aged 81 while awaiting trial after being accused of modern slavery offences.

The man was discovered in October 2018 by police while he was living in a rotting shed near Carlisle, with no heating, no lighting and no flooring.

Swailes admitted that from "time to time" his father would arrange for him to work with the victim and that "on occasion" he was paid less than minimum wage.

The vulnerable victim had "very low" IQ of 59 and was exploited since he was about 18-years-old.

Now in his 60s, the victim now lives in supported accommodation outside Cumbria.